Flying Lessons Blog

Leaving Las Vegas Southwest Travelers Get Lucky in Colorado

December 15, 2023

Last week, a Southwest Airlines jetliner, slid past the end of a snowy runway on landing in Colorado Springs. There were no injuries to those on board or damage to the aircraft. According to airline spokesman, Chris Mainz, Flight 1954 from Las Vegas never left the paved surface. The Boeing 737 Max came to a halt about 20 feet into an overrun area. This otherwise “meh” event could be a Christmas miracle, considering how often similar events have serious consequences, even for Southwest. The most famous, if not the most deadly, happened on December 8, 2005, eighteen years to the day that last week’s Colorado… Read More…


“Last Run of the Day” Proves Fatal for Two Air Race Pilots, Will it Kill the Event Too?

September 18, 2023

Two planes collided Sunday while attempting to land following the last race of the day at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Both pilots were killed. The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted it would investigate why the World War 2 era airplanes – two different versions of the T6 trainer – collided as the pilots were landing. Fred Telling, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association told a reporter, “I am completely devastated and heartbroken today.” Pilots Nick Macky and Chris Rushing had just completed the difficult phase of the Gold race for the T6 airplanes, which includes flying steep banks as the… Read More…


Not So Easy to Get Away with Murder by Airplane Unless…

August 24, 2023

Murder by airplane is a film and literary staple (See Hijacked or T.J. Newman’s Falling). On occasion, it is batted around as a theory in actual air disasters. The 1961 crash that killed UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld in what was then called Rhodesia, is one example. Another is the flight of United Airlines 553. On December 8, 1972, a Boeing 737 crashed on approach to Chicago’s Midway Airport, killing 43 people on board including Dorothy Hunt, the wife of a Watergate ringleader and a controversial figure in her own right.  I’ve written about these disasters in my book, The Crash Detectives. Wednesday’s crash of the… Read More…


Emergency Slide Falls Off Plane into Chicago Backyard

July 18, 2023

  Shortly before touching down at Chicago’s O’Hare International Monday afternoon, the emergency slide on United Flight 12 from Zurich fell uninflated, into the backyard of Patrick Devitt. The Boeing 767 landed without incident and it appears the flight crew was unaware of the mishap. That the emergency equipment was missing was noticed by the maintenance crew and reported. The emergency slides on Boeing 767s have been a cause of concern since at least 2014 which is when Boeing sent the first of two bulletins to operators notifying them that there was a problem with slides deploying during maintenance and in flight. The FAA followed… Read More…


Boeing Hides Behind Pilots as Gross Manslaughter is Attached to 737 Max Deaths

July 13, 2023

Families of three British citizens who died in 2019, in the second of two Boeing 737 Max airliner crashes were victims of gross negligence manslaughter. In a ruling earlier this week in England, Senior Coroner Penelope Schofield called the deaths of the three humanitarian workers on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, an “illegal killing.” It is an awkward term to be sure but appropriate for a victory that is similarly conflicted. “Every time family members try to bring Boeing to task, they meet a brick wall,” said Richard Baker, the barrister in England who represented the families. To come to her conclusion, Ms. Schofield relied on… Read More…


Likely Hypoxia Event in Virginia Not As “Rare” as All That

June 10, 2023

The crash of a private jet in Central Virginia on Sunday has striking similarities to air disasters that resulted from the incapacitation of pilots due to a loss of pressurization and one noticeably unusual  (if not unprecedented) element. When pilots of the Cessna Citation failed to respond to numerous radio calls fighter jets were dispatched to check things out. Speeding toward the wayward Citation, at least one of the six Air National Guard F-16s broke the sound barrier, generating a sonic boom heard across the Washington DC region. That more than any other reason explains the headlines about what would be another fatal general aviation… Read More…


Abortion Pills and Airplane Parts – US Judges Split on Who’s the Boss

April 16, 2023

An interesting difference of opinion has emerged among U.S. Federal District Court Judges over whether government agencies have the last word on how they enforce their regulations. A Texas Federal Judge ruled on April 7th, that U.S. Food and Drug Administration improperly certified the abortion pill, Mifepristone and failed to heed the concerns of physicians and associations opposed to it. This post is not about abortion. It points out the curious relationship of that decision with a contrary one by Kansas Federal Judge Monti Belot in a Boeing manufacturing case. In 2014, Belot ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration was the final authority when it… Read More…


Airplanes – A Rare Sanctuary from Mass Shootings in America

April 10, 2023

Today at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, a man entered with a gun and soon, 5 people were dead and 8 injured. In Orlando, Florida on Sunday, eight people including 3 children were shot in two separate mass shootings. The day before, four people were killed at – get this – “a celebration of life” event in Houston, Texas. There was a mass shooting somewhere in America every.single.day in April. I do not know the circumstances of this most recent shooting.  It does not matter. What matters, is that America is the country where one of humankind’s greatest feats of ingenuity was imagined and accomplished… Read More…


Wright Brothers Historic Site Badly Damaged in Fire

March 26, 2023

The first American airplane factory, a 1910 structure built for Orville and Wilbur Wright, caught fire early this morning in Dayton, Ohio throwing into doubt, long-sought plans to turn the buildings into a historical park under the management of the National Park Service. Firefighters battled the fire for 14 hours but aerial footage from WHIO television shows that the two adjoining brick buildings built by the Wrights along with three others built later, have been badly damaged. Sections of the roof over the Wright factory area appear to have collapsed. In November 1909, Orville Wright announced his Dayton plans to reporters telling them, “We propose… Read More…


Peter Goutiere, Hump Pilot, Hotshot, Storyteller, Rascal, Dead at 108

January 23, 2023

(Note, this story has been changed to correct Peter Goutiere’s age at death, which was 108, not 109.) Peter Goutiere, a World War 2 Hump pilot, died on Sunday at the age of 108. His death leaves Moon Fun Chin, the last surviving member of the group of daredevil aviators who brought troops, food, fuel and other supplies into China after Japan severed China’s only land supply route. Goutiere flew for CNAC, a partnership between the Government of China and Pan American World Airways. Before and during World War 2 flying over the Himalayans was a deadly serious business. The planes were unpressurized and heavily… Read More…


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